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Rim fire: New road closure, long detours for some Yosemite visitors

August 28, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
  • The western entrance to Yosemite National Park at Big Oak Flat remained shut Wednesday. Park officials also closed a portion of the park's major artery, Tioga Road, to aid fire suppression efforts.
The western entrance to Yosemite National Park at Big Oak Flat remained… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Another key roadway in Yosemite National Park closed at noon Wednesday as part of a firefighting defense against the massive Rim fire, a closure that blocks the east-west route across the park and one expected to remain in effect through Labor Day weekend.

Tioga Road, also known as Highway 120, was closed between Tamarack Flat and Yosemite Creek campgrounds, a roughly 18-mile stretch that makes access to popular Yosemite Valley from the east an incredibly long drive-around. 

"That will limit the access for visitors to and from the east side of the park, quite possibly over Labor Day weekend, which will have a significant economic impact on the area and [be] an inconvenience for visitors," Yosemite spokesman Tom Medema told Reuters.

It's the second closure to affect access to part of the park. The Big Oak Flat entrance to the park at Highway 120 has been closed for days.

The park suggests these detours while Tioga Road remains temporarily closed:

-- Visitors coming to Yosemite Valley from the park's eastern entrance should drive around the park and enter from Fresno on Highway 41 or from Merced on Highway 140.

-- Visitors entering on the west side who want to go to the back country at Tuolumne Meadows (where the campground and visitor services are open) also have to drive around the park. One option is to take Highway 50 from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe and drop down Highway 395 to enter the park on the part of Highway 120 that's still open.

Yosemite lists campground and road closures as well as alternative driving directions during the Rim fire on its website.

The fire, burning in the western part of the park and the Stanislaus National Forest, is now in its 12th day, with containment at 23%. Park officials have said that lodgings and campgrounds in Yosemite Valley remain unaffected and are welcoming visitors for the busy holiday weekend.

Check the Rim fire website for updates on conditions at Yosemite, or call (209) 372-0200 for a recorded message about conditions. Call centers also are answering questions about the fire at (209) 372-0327 and (209) 372-0329.
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